Water supply excellent … for now

Lynn Tate, head of the High Plains Water District, gave the Rotary Club of Amarillo some good news Thursday.

Amarillo is in excellent shape with regard to its long-term supply of water. We’re in far better shape than almost any other significant city in Texas, he said. T. Boone Pickens once had this idea of pumping water from the Texas Panhandle to places downstate; it didn’t work out, Pickens never found a willing buyer and he ended up selling the water to the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority, which quenches Amarillo’s thirst.

We’ve got about 200 years worth of water available to us from the Ogallala Aquifer, which covers several states from Texas to Nebraska and even parts of the Dakotas.

Hey, no problem with water supply.

Should we be complacent? I don’t think so.

I didn’t hear Tate say anything about whether cities — namely Amarillo — should institute mandatory conservation measures.

He seemed curiously serene about it.

I am in no position to question seriously Lynn Tate’s expertise on these matters. He’s a lot more educated than I am on these matters. He grew up in a farming and ranching family in the eastern Panhandle. He went to law school and has had a successful law practice in Amarillo. He’s a first-rate agriculture lawyer.

However, I cannot help but think the city ought to be a tad more proactive in its water conservation efforts than it seems to be at the moment. Same with CRMWA and the High Plains Water District.

Tate did mention that irrigated agriculture accounts for 85 to 90 percent of all water use in the Panhandle, which means there’s little that homeowners in Amarillo can do to prevent the decline in water resources. He also said he believes the aquifer is recharging in some areas and that the water levels are “stabilizing.”

Isn’t it time, though, to discuss openly what we should do to forestall the day when crises arrive and we might not have enough water to take care of our needs?

I know that 200 years is a long way off. We’ll all be gone by then. So will our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. Good stewardship requires us to think even beyond that time, doesn’t it?

Just sayin’.

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